Understanding Benefits for Injury and Illness from Work
If you are injured at work or during the course of performing work duties, you must report your work accident details to your Employer, your treating physician, and to WorkSafe BC.
If you are injured while driving a motor vehicle for work, you may be able to opt for either WorkSafe benefits or pursuing the other driver for damages, likely insured by ICBC. Speak to a personal injury lawyer first before you make your election to ensure you understand the compensation options.
If your claim is accepted, WorkSafe BC benefits will cover temporary wage loss from work while you recover. They may also provide rehabilitation or retraining. If your injury results in more permanent injury, temporary wage loss benefits will come to an end and WorkSafe may assess you for a permanent disability pension, payable either monthly or a lump sum. This is assessed based on limitations and is not an adequate replacement for lost income which is why you need to look to additional coverage.
Do not forgot about line of credit, mortgage, credit card payments or other insurance coverage you may have in the event of disability. These plans will often pay your monthly payment while you are not working for a set time or limit.
If you suffer injury, sickness, disease, or illness and are unable to continue to work, you may qualify for group benefits through your employment such as Short Term Disability (STD) or Income Loss Benefits.
If there are no STD benefits available to you, then apply for Employment Insurance Medical benefits or EI Medical for the first 16 weeks off work.
After 16 weeks, or the end of the short term coverage if longer, you may qualify for Long Term Disability (LTD) benefits. Typically, you make application for LTD before your EI Medical or STD benefits end.
It is important you apply for Long Term Disability even where you are still receiving WorkSafe benefits, as the LTD will step in if the WorkSafe benefits drop off.
If you fail to apply for LTD in time, you may forfeit for right to collect such benefits. Unfortunately, too many claimants get caught up chasing WorkSafe when they should be pursuing their direct LTD coverage to support them throughout.
Note that LTD benefits often pay benefits for the first two years when you are unable to work in your own occupation, and continue paying after 2 years only if you cannot work in any occupation. For some professions or occupations, the own occupation coverage may continue to age 65 or longer. If you pay the LTD premiums, your benefits will be non-taxable when paid to you. If your employer pays all or part of your LTD premiums, then the benefit is likely taxable. Read your policy wording to understand what coverage applies to you.
If you are a union employee, it is important to meet with your union representative to discuss the disability benefit process that applies to your collective agreement.
If your disability from work is severe and prolonged such that you are unlikely to work again before age 65 in any regular full time, part time or seasonal work, then you need to apply for CPP Disability benefits. Note you cannot collect both CPP Disability benefits and CPP retirement pension benefits, and CPP Disability benefits are only payable to age 65.
Further, CPP Disability, WorkSafe benefits and other disability payments are often offset by the LTD benefits in most policies. Basically, LTD tops up the other benefits to your maximum monthly benefit and is not paid in addition to other benefits you receive.
If you are turned down at any point for disability benefits from any source, you need to take steps to appeal or file an action to pursue your right to compensation. There are time limits running for any appeal process or court action so do not delay. If you do, you may lose your right to claim compensation and forfeit the benefits.